Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) leaves a House GOP conference meeting...

Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25. Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it has launched a sweeping investigation into Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) to determine if he violated laws governing campaign finance, financial disclosure, conflict of interest and sexual misconduct.

The committee, which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, voted Tuesday to establish a four-member investigative subcommittee to conduct the probe of Santos.

The subcommittee will examine whether Santos committed unlawful activity in his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to disclose required information on statements to the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws while working at a firm providing fiduciary services; and engaged in sexual misconduct with an individual seeking a job in his congressional office.

The result of the investigation could determine whether the embattled Santos will face discipline or even expulsion from Congress.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The House Ethics Committee launched a probe of Rep. George Santos to determine if he violated laws governing campaign finance, financial disclosure, conflict of interest and sexual misconduct.
  • The bipartisan committee voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to conduct the probe.
  • The result of the investigation could determine whether Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) faces discipline or even expulsion from Congress.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last month he would leave it up to the Ethics Committee to find out whether Santos had broken the law.

If the committee finds Santos broke the law, McCarthy said Santos would be removed from office.

“The House Committee on Ethics has opened an investigation, and Congressman George Santos is fully cooperating. There will be no further comment made at this time,” said a statement posted Thursday on Santos' official Twitter account.

The Ethics Committee’s probe is the latest investigation into Santos, a self-professed “terrible liar” who fabricated his education and work record and who is facing calls from a growing number House colleagues to resign or to be expelled.

“Any opportunities to hold George Santos accountable for his many horrific deceptions are welcome developments, and I am glad the House Ethics Committee is moving forward with an inquiry,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said in a statement.

“Santos’s continued presence in the House of Representatives is a stain on the institution, and he should resign immediately or be expelled from Congress,” D'Esposito said.

The Nassau and Queens county district attorneys, the New York State attorney general and the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn all have said they have opened inquiries or investigation into Santos.

Complaints about Santos also have been filed with the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section asked the FEC to stand down on its investigation of Santos, The Washington Post, citing two sources, reported a month ago.

The department also could ask the House Ethics Committee to hold off to avoid crossing wires with its investigation, said campaign finance attorney Brett Kappel.

Congressional ethics attorney Stanley Brand called such a step “the traditional protocol.”

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) will chair the investigative subcommittee, and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) will be ranking member. Reps. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) and Glenn Ivy (D-Md.) also will serve as members.

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) serves on the Ethics Committee but will not be on the subcommittee.

The Ethics Committee’s choice of targets for investigation appear to relate to two complaints filed with the panel and many of the revelations and reports about Santos that have emerged in the past two and a half months.

Last month, Democratic Reps. Daniel Goldman, of Brooklyn, and Ritchie Torres, of the Bronx, filed a six-page complaint against Santos alleging he violated the Ethics in Government Act by failing to file two financial disclosure reports on time and lied on the one he did file.

The complaint cited an apartment in Brazil that Santos listed as an asset worth $500,000 to $1 million on his 2022 House disclosure statement, although he later told reporters he owned no property.

The complaint also questioned whether, as Santos reported, his income jumped from $50,000 in 2020 to $700,000 in 2021.

“It is imperative that the committee proceed with this investigation quickly and expeditiously,” Goldman said in a statement Thursday.

Derek Myers, who applied to work for Santos but was turned down, filed the other complaint with the Ethics Committee, alleging that Santos touched his groin while they sat on a sofa in the congressman’s office.

Santos has denied the allegation.

Other targets of the Ethics Committee investigation include Santos' business associations and irregularities in his campaign finance filings.

Outside groups and news reports have revealed discrepancies in Santos' FEC filings, such as the reporting of 40 disbursements of $199.99.

For disbursements of more than $200, campaign committees must keep a receipt, invoice or canceled check, according to FEC regulations.

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